Blogtour: The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

Once upon a time they were best friends. They were all friends. So when Jenny moved to Australia to focus on her swimming career, she not only lost Kath, but her soul-mate Tom. It was for the best. Or so they said. Now, eight years later, Jenny seeks out her childhood friend and heads to rural France where Kath has settled.

At first the women fall back into a close relationship, but before long strange and malicious behaviour leads Jenny to realise the truth: that Kath has played a clever game all along to manipulate and control those around her. And Jenny is her biggest victim.
Set against the glorious backdrop of the Languedoc lavender fields, The Good Friend is a beautifully written psychological drama about love, lies and a dangerous obsession. Because once the truth is revealed, there’s no going back…

This novel involves a love triangle between the three main adults of the story, Jenny, Kath and Tom. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers (as usual with these reviews) but throughout the book, you do find yourself wondering if Kath is really as good a friend as we first think of whether there is something more sinister going on.

I had to keep reading this when I started because I just wanted to know what happened next! Little pieces of information are interspersed throughout and I found that I often thought about the plotlines when I wasn’t actually reading the book. This book explores the idea of toxic friendships and whether it is really worth keeping a friendship alive purely because it’s been there for most of your life. I did find the beginning a little slow, but once it got going I wanted to see what else would be revealed about the past. No spoilers again, but there was one point in particular which really pulled the rug from under me. I won’t say when, but you’ll know when you hit it.

I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers which build slowly and reveal details bit by bit. If you’re more interested in immediate action, this may not be for you. If you have the patience, go for this one! It was worth it in the end!

unnamed

Advertisements

Blogtour: The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything…

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

This is such a lovely, sentimental romantic novel, which doesn’t border on the cheesy or ridiculous. It actually seemed quite realistic and the characters were the type of people you may come across in everyday life, which is actually quite rare in romantic novels I think. One thing I can’t stand is when you’re reading a romantic novel and the scripture sounds just like it’s come from “Gone With The Wind” or something – when you read it and think “But no-one would say that really, would they?”. I once read a quote by Russell T Davies (script writer extraordinaire) who said that he hated it when two characters are arguing and when one character leaves the room or walks away, the other just angrily shouts the name of the person who’s left (“Rickaaaayyy” immediately springs to mind…). I can relate wholeheartedly with this (although I didn’t actually notice this until I read this quote). This seems to lack that sort of cliche and really made me feel like I was reading the story of two real people.

One extra touch I did enjoy immensely is that there is a Spotify playlist that accompanies the novel. It can be found on Spotify by searching “The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper” in the search bar. It’s something I haven’t really seen this before and it added a real interactivity to the story. There are several references to these songs throughout and I personally find music really resonates with me (excuse the pun) so this really added to my enjoyment.

If you are after an interesting romantic novel which doesn’t follow the stereotypical “boy meets girl” route – yes I realise that’s contrary to the title of the book! – then this is highly recommended!

Roxie Cooper Author Picture

Roxie Cooper lives in Yarm, a pretty little market town in the North-East.
After reading Classics at Newcastle University, she realised she needed
a break from studying Latin, Ancient Greek and all that serious stuff, so
naturally, she became a dancer in a nightclub (à la Coyote Ugly) for a few
years before going to live in Australia. When she returned, she swapped
dancing on a bar, to practising at the Bar, and became a barrister for 7 years.

The Day We Met Blog Tour Poster

Blogtour: What Happens in France by Carol Wyer

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.
With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye. Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish…

This novel combined several things which I love into one book, so already we’re onto a winner: blog writing, quiz shows, France and a pug called Biggie Smalls (not that I claim to be a huge The Notorious B.I.G. fan as such if you pardon the pun, but I get the reference and therefore deserve a cookie…or a croissant I guess in this circumstance!).

The characters are all very likeable which is rare, because normally there are several characters I would happily punch in the face several times. And I’m not a violent person…usually. The characters were very supportive of one another and I found myself rooting for them throughout.

This is just a lovely feel-good comedy drama which I would like to be able to read again with fresh eyes to make me feel happy about the world again. That’s not to say that this is without drama and sadness of course, but it’s balanced and makes sense when it appears. I also desperately want to apply to be on a game show because this made it sound like so much fun!

what happens in france blog tour banner (final)

Blogtour: The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

At well over a hundred years old, Billy Binns believes he’s the oldest man in Europe and knows his days are numbered. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have coloured his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a lifetime of hope and heartbreak.

This is the story of an ordinary man’s life, an enchanting novel which takes you on an epic yet intimate journey that will make you laugh, cry, and reflect on the universal turmoil of love.

This book is very similar to books that I have confessed to enjoying before, such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Elizabeth is Missing. It follows a similar story of an elderly citizen reminiscing about their life.

There were a few parts where the language was unexpectedly crude. It doesn’t bother me personally, but I know it can annoy some people. I thought I should add that little warning. It isn’t the twee love story the title implies.

There was also a little bit of going back and forth between different time zones, as sometimes you’re seeing the stories of Billy’s youth and other times you’re in the nursing home. Be prepared to keep a mental note of which time you’re reading about because as is often the case with this, if you’re not paying attention it can lead to confusion! It sort of reflects Billy’s brain in a way, so I found it rather clever.

I found this generally enjoyable and easy to read. There was a lot of narrative and it is very descriptive without straying too far from any action – although the “action” is very much of a relationship variety rather than a Bond-esque variety!

Six Lives of Billy Binns Blog Tour Poster .jpg

Blogtour: Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else. When Clodagh Shepherd’s curiosity gives way to obsession, her thoughts turn to revenge. In the wake of her husband’s affair and subsequent disappearance, Clo makes an impulsive decision to befriend the beautiful stranger who has stolen her life. Answering an ad for a home help, she moves into the home of her husband’s mistress and is immediately drawn into the chilling reality behind the idyllic façade of Hamptons life. Central to her terrifying nightmare is a deadly secret–a secret someone will kill to keep. In this dark and twisting thriller, Clo proves the adage “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”; with shocking
consequences.

When I read the blurb for this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of “Doctor Foster”, that BBC One drama from a couple of years ago when Suranne Jones went ape on Bertie Carvel for having an affair on Villanelle from Killing Eve (aka the incredible Jodie Comer). I guess this is fairly similar after having read it too.

The chapters are very short, which means that you can read it in short bursts. However, I can’t recall a single chapter when I thought “Yeah, I’ll leave it there, I don’t need to read any more” because they ALL seemed to have a cliffhanger. I tend to read books over my lunch break at work so I had to be very careful to not read for too long and miss going back to work. As brilliant as that is, it does end up taking up a lot of my thinking time!

Despite the strange scenario which funnily enough I have never experienced personally, the atmosphere and characters of the story felt very real and gritty. I felt like I was living their lives alongside them. I spent the whole book trying to work out if I liked the main character Clo or not. I mean, as a character she was brilliant, wicked and full of depth, but as a person? Well, I definitely don’t want to be on the wrong side of her anyway. I did enjoy that I wasn’t sure about how I felt though, and it made me question my own morals!

I would certainly recommend this if you’re up for an intense read, but also I would recommend buying this book. Apparently sales of these books provide donations towards counselling for single mothers who have sufferedThese books provide donations towards the counseling of single mothers after domestic violence and post-traumatic stress. It’s worth buying just for that if nothing else, I’d say!

into the silent sea blog tour poster

Blogtour: All the Lonely People by David Owen

Hello everyone, it’s been a while!

Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear.

With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?

She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now.

As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.

The premise of this novel really intrigued me. It’s so current and as you see more and more people staring at their phones as they walk down the street, you do start to wonder if the internet is taking over real life. This novel explores the idea that your whole existence only exists on the internet.

The action starts in this novel very quickly so if the premise of the story interests you, there isn’t too long to wait. There are blurred edges between virtual life and reality and you need to pay attention to know which is which. Luckily this held my attention well so keeping up with this was relatively easy for me. Having said this, the “fade” itself is very subtle and I really enjoyed the uncertainty throughout.

The characters are very well written and (Not wanting to post spoilers) I could really sense their characteristics and imagine their faces and traits. They are not the stereotypical, and felt very “real” not only in their characteristics but also their speech. Although I’m towards the end of the spectrum of “young adult” (I’m 26, so not actually sure…) I really felt the characters.

This novel really made me think about my internet usage and I love it when novels really make me consider my life choices. Although I feel that my internet addiction is relatively minor – I know plenty of people who can’t even walk down the street without a phone in their face – I am ready to reconsider my internet usage.

How has the internet made your life better and how has it made it worse?

It has made my life better in several ways, because if I’m heading into town and need to know if a shop is open, I can quickly Google it and find out. It also lets me see if there is a particular shop/restaurant nearby. I also have a bit of anxiety when it comes to speaking on the phone,so having the ability to book appointments at the hairdressers or the doctor for example is incredibly useful. However, I think the easiest way to get over a fear is to keep doing the thing you’re scared of until you’re no longer scared to do that thing, and this has caused me to be pathetically nervous about ringing people. (but at least you can now see who is phoning you unless they withhold their number, right? Also if it wasn’t for the internet, this blog wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t be able to look at other people’s blogs either!

I sometimes find that when I’m bored, I’m endlessly scrolling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I often wish I hadn’t signed up for them, because I find that I’m not paying attention to things around me and that’s really sad. My partner has a strong aversion to technology (he has a “brick phone”) and often chastises me when I look at my phone for too long (although sometimes I’m looking at my phone because I’m reading the books I’ve been sent to read). It’s a complicated question. I guess in my mind, I like the internet, but have a strong love/hate relationship with social media.

all the lonely people blog tour poster final

Blogtour: Attend by West Camel

Hello everyone, hope you all had a nice Christmas whatever you did! I’m back with another blogtour.

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, an exquisite history of hidden Deptford and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

This is a very intriguing story which is written in a very unique style. It is kind of hard to identify the genre this novel fits under because it is a combination of so many different types that even after finishing it I wasn’t entirely sure! It does lead to this becoming one of the most unusual novels I have read this year (and that’s saying a lot – I mean, it is 2019 in 3 days!)

The writing style was very compelling and held my attention well despite the constant change in genre. I found it fairly easy to follow what was happening but it was never boring or predictable. The characters are also very well written and I could vividly imagine them in reality. The descriptions were enough to build up a decent image without the imagery being “spoon-fed” to you…so to speak.

This may not be to everyone’s taste because as I’ve mentioned previously, there are a lot of genres combined to create this. If you’re only really interested in one genre this isn’t the book for you. However if you’re interested in reading something unique that combines lots of different elements this will be right up your street. Think of this as a trail mix novel – there are Skittles, strawberry laces and Rolos mixed in altogether. Although they’re not normally combined, they work together well and you may find it hard to go back to just one, although all of them are delicious alone. I’m not sure where I’m going with this…maybe I’ve had too much wine. Either way, if that sounds like your type of thing, this is highly recommended!

Attend Blog Tour Poster .jpg